Homeless student population on the rise in Bay District Schools after Hurricane Michael

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay District Schools has always kept tabs on where its students are living, but this year a new box asking if your family is in a certain living situation due to Hurricane Michael can be seen on the Student Housing Questionnaire form.

The number of homeless students in Bay District Schools continues to go up after Hurricane Michael. (Bay District Schools)

The homeless student population has gone up since Hurricane Michael.

Kay Daniel, Homeless Liaison for Bay District Schools, said, "We went from averaging 1,500 kids a year we would identify as in temporary living situations, but last year it was like 5,700."

As paperwork for this year comes in, district employees say it's evident the housing crisis will get worse before it gets better.

"I just looked at some numbers last year in September, I did what's called a pull on the data, and we were at 500 [homeless students], we're already over 600 [homeless students], we've only been coding people for four days," said Daniel.

Many students have been couch surfing since the storm, trying to make it by until graduation.

Sue Bowen, Graduation Interventionist for Bay District Schools, said, "They don't consider themselves homeless if they have someplace to stay, so they don't recognize themselves as being in a semi-crisis situation, but at any moment they could be out on the street, that makes them homeless."

Bowen says many of these students have been dropping out of school to work.

"They really want to graduate, but the money looks real fast and easy, so you have to be... really be able to get the payoff for them as to why staying in school is going to be just as important as the fast, easy money right now," said Bowen.

The district's goal is to work with homeless students to keep them in school and get their diploma.

"There is no barrier that they have that we won't find a way around, nothing that they can't surpass, no matter what it is, we will figure out a way for them to graduate because that piece of paper is the key to their future," said Bowen.

Although the number of homeless students may be up, Bay District Schools is working to keep the graduation number up as well. Only time will tell if their plan will receive an "A."

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